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Research article2015Peer reviewedOpen access

Interacting effects of change in climate, human population, land use, and water use on biodiversity and ecosystem services

Elmhagen, Bodil; Destouni, Georgia; Angerbjorn, Anders; Borgstrom, Sara; Boyd, Emily; Cousins, Sara A. O.; Dalen, Love; Ehrlen, Johan; Ermold, Matti; Hamback, Peter A.; Hedlund, Johanna; Hylander, Kristoffer; Jaramillo, Fernando; Lagerholm, Vendela K.; Lyon, Steve W.; Moor, Helen; Nykvist, Bjorn; Pasanen-Mortensen, Marianne; Plue, Jan; Prieto, Carmen;
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Human population growth and resource use, mediated by changes in climate, land use, and water use, increasingly impact biodiversity and ecosystem services provision. However, impacts of these drivers on biodiversity and ecosystem services are rarely analyzed simultaneously and remain largely unknown. An emerging question is how science can improve the understanding of change in biodiversity and ecosystem service delivery and of potential feedback mechanisms of adaptive governance. We analyzed past and future change in drivers in south-central Sweden. We used the analysis to identify main research challenges and outline important research tasks. Since the 19th century, our study area has experienced substantial and interlinked changes; a 1.6 degrees C temperature increase, rapid population growth, urbanization, and massive changes in land use and water use. Considerable future changes are also projected until the mid-21st century. However, little is known about the impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services so far, and this in turn hampers future projections of such effects. Therefore, we urge scientists to explore interdisciplinary approaches designed to investigate change in multiple drivers, underlying mechanisms, and interactions over time, including assessment and analysis of matching-scale data from several disciplines. Such a perspective is needed for science to contribute to adaptive governance by constantly improving the understanding of linked change complexities and their impacts.


governance; historical ecology; landscape management; scale mismatch; social-ecological systems

Published in

Ecology and Society
2015, Volume: 20, number: 1, article number: 23

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      Human Geography

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